The church of San Domenico (or Santa Maria del Rosario) and its convent were founded in 1461 to host the Dominicans who had been recently settled in the city.
The early church was destroyed by the 1613 earthquake and rebuilt in 1678, but survived the other terrible 1693 earthquake. The original front door keeps the austere style of the seventeenth century.
The convent was later used as a tribunal during the Inquisition. Since 1869 it hosts the offices of the municipal authority.
In the atrium there is a crypt, where visitors can see frescoes dating back to the seventeenth century, and which contains skeletal remains, perhaps belonging to the friars themselves. The crypt was discovered by Giovanni Modica Scala in the middle of the XX century.
The façade of the church has two orders. In the first (pre-earthquake) order it is carved the 1678 date, while the second order is part of the post-earthquake renovation occurred in the eighteenth century.
The façade has a portal with a round arch on which stands a large Dominican coat of arms and four niches that safeguard four stone statues. The statues represent San Domenico and San Vincenzo Ferreri.
The interior has a nave with a barrel vault and it is decorated with baroque stucco made by Gianforma (who belonged to the Serpotta school).
The church has a chapel designed as an intimate place for praying; it is richly decorated with eighteenth-century stucco and mural paintings.
The church, which survived the 1693 earthquake, contains several works prior to this period.
The building is full of interesting paintings as well as sixteenth and seventeenth centuries old tables. Two paintings, one on wooden surface and one on canvas, respectively represent a great sixteenth-century wooden altarpiece depicting the Madonna del Rosario, surrounded by cherubs and angels, in the act of donating crowns to the San Domenico, San Tommaso d’Aquino, Sant’Agata and Santa Lucia. While the second (canvas) painting was made by Matteo Reati (1630/40) and depicts the moment when San Domenico appeared to a monk of Soriano.
Other highly remarkable works inside the church are the central altar, the statue of the Blessed Mary of the Holy Rosary with two marble angels sculpted on the sides, plus various panels with some episodes of the life of San Domenico.
The walls are further enriched with other paintings depicting Le anime del purgatorio (The souls in Purgatory) and San Giuseppe (St. Joseph) attributed to priest Spadaro, in addition to Il matrimonio di Santa Caterina (The Marriage of St. Catherine) and San Giovanni Bosco (St. John Bosco)
Progetto finanziato con risorse di cui al Progetto d'Eccellenza "Culto e cultura - Itinerari di turismo religioso" di cui alla L- 296/2006 art. 1 c. 1228.
TOURIST PACKAGE CONTRACT (Aut. Regione Sicilia N.3743/S. 7 Tur del 22.02.2017)